ABU DHABI// The Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF) are aiming to send a full show jumping team to the 2012 Olympic Games in London - a competition until now contested by only one Emirati rider. Sheikha Latifa al Maktoum became the first Emirati Olympic show jumper when she took part in the individual event in last year's Beijing Games, but Taleb al Muhairi, general secretary of the EEF, is confident more riders will qualify to represent the UAE in London.
"We will have a team of Emirati show jumpers at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and beyond. I am sure of it," he said. "We have a number of riders who could qualify. We are 50, maybe 70 per cent sure we shall have a team competing in London. "It is important that we compete at all International events. We are hopeful our riders will represent the UAE at the Olympics, and the World Equestrian Games [in Kentucky] next year."
Five young UAE-based riders, who may one day be bidding for Olympic qualification, will be competing for international honours in the FEI Children's International Jumping Competition Final, which runs from December 11-18 at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. The field of 30 junior riders - each of whom qualified through regional events in their home country - includes children from 16 different countries, with youngsters travelling from as far afield as New Zealand, Chile and Brazil. "The [UAE youngsters] are all good riders. Each is capable of winning the event," said al Muhairi.